Monthly Archives: April 2012

I Was Featured on Preschool Powol Packets!

Preschool Powol Packets

My post about our crystal egg geodes was one of the most clicked on links last week. This link-up always has lots of great ideas and fun projects!

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Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Window Frame Mosaics (Updated)

Window Mosaic 2

The weather during the first few days of our “spring break” was a bit gloomy, with freezing rain even. So, we did some indoor crafts and projects on those days. One project we did was these window frame mosaics that I found the directions for on Play at Home Mom. We don’t have any local dollar stores, so I just found three frames at a thrift store and spray painted them black. Unfortunately, after giving Dora a long lecture about how glass can be dangerous, I went to get the glue and Dora climbed on the table to get a frame and put her hand through it. Miraculously, she didn’t cut herself. So please, if you decide to do this project, learn from my mistake, and be sure you have all the supplies set out before you put the frames out. Also, I decided to just lean the frames on the window ledge, rather than using suction cups to hang them. I have found that suction cups are often not to be trusted and I didn’t want to worry about the frames falling down and getting glass all over the floor.

Window Mosaic 1

Update (April 11, 2012)– I forgot to mention that we had problems with the glue running out the side of the frame as the mosaic dried. I set the project on waxed paper, but then the waxed paper was sticking to the frame. Then I remembered something that I had read about a long time ago (have no idea where, so can’t give credit, I’m afraid). I put pushpins on each corner of the frame, which let the glue drip down on the waxed paper without the frame sticking to the waxed paper. The pushpins came out very easily.

Glass Mosaic Drying

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Labels: Arts and Crafts
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Peg Tic-Tac-Toe

Bunny Tic-Tac-Toe

As I mentioned previously, we had “spring break” last week. It so happened that we also had some really nice weather, so we spent much of the week outside. I did, however, bring out the last Easter toy that I found in the Target dollar aisle a couple of months ago. it was a tic-tac-toe game that used peg bunnies. It was really good fine motor practice and the perfect difficulty level for Dora. She also loved being able to really play the game with me. She didn’t quite get the strategy 100%, but was doing pretty well. Up until this point, she has been frustrated with tic-tac-toe, as drawing the “X’s” and “O’s” was a bit much to do while concentrating on game strategy. In addition, other store-bought games that used magnets and stickers haven’t interested her for some reason. So I was kind of surprised that she liked this version so much.

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Labels: Montessori
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

An Eggstrodinary Week

Yarn Egg

This week was “spring break” around here, but Dora and I did have some eggy fun. Interestingly, she refused to dye Easter eggs, so that was one eggy activity that we did not do. We made an egg out of yarn and a balloon, which we then popped. This project has been floating around Pinterest a lot lately, but I used the directions from Boutique Girls. After reviewing Boutique Girls pictures more closely, I realized that she used crochet thread, but it looked like yarn to me, so we used yarn. I was very nervous that ours would not work out, as I had to alter the method quite a bit. I found that our yarn just would not stick, unless we kept the whole thing in the liquid starch the whole time and rolled the balloon and yarn in the starch as we went. As is, we had trouble getting the yarn to stay on in certain directions, so used more yarn than I would have preferred. Obviously, using crochet thread instead, probably would have rectified this problem.. At the same time, that night, as our egg was drying, I saw another picture of this activity on Pinterest, so guess I should just be glad that our “egg” didn’t “fail”. Smile.

We did have unusual results with our “rubber” egg, which was supposed to shrink and grow. We were able to remove the egg shell, buy soaking it in vinegar, and indeed it was quite rubbery then.Egg Experiment After Vinegar 1

Then we soaked our rubbery egg in sugar water, which was supposed to cause it to shrink. None of the blogs I read said how much sugar to use to make the sugar water, so at first, I used 6 sugar cubes in 2 cups of water. The egg grew, so I thought I must not have used enough sugar and added another 14 sugar cubes to the water. It grew more (my photo below is off a bit, as I did not align the left end of the egg with the ruler well). I know a couple of other bloggers used corn syrup, but I just didn’t feel like dealing with that potential mess.

Egg Experiment After Sugar Water 1

We then put the egg in plain water, which is supposed to cause the egg to grow, but given our previous results, I expected that it would shrink instead. We dyed the water purple, just for fun, and it did turn purple, but pretty much stayed the same size. So, go figure….

Egg Experiment After Plain Water 1

Meanwhile, I tried cooking “hard-boiled” eggs using the Alton Brown method, which I read about on Greetings from the Asylum.. It entails cooking the eggs in the oven, instead of boiling them, and it really does produce much better eggs than boiling them. The centers were very yellow and they really did taste more “creamy” as some people have claimed, which I thought was a weird word to use in regards to hard-boiled eggs, but then I tasted them and “creamy” really is the right word to describe them. These were seriously the best “hard-boiled” eggs that I have ever had.

Hard Baked Eggs

Finally, we read the The Easter Egg, by Jan Brett. As secular homeschoolers, I found that it was the only Easter book that I could recommend. All the other secular Easter books that we read were either based on a TV show, inane, or promoted greed. These last two comments are merely my opinion, of course, but as an example, in one very popular book, the main character finds fabulous egg after egg, but rejects them all, because he only wants solid gold eggs for some reason. I’m at a loss as to why anyone would consider this to be a good read for children, other than the book has lift the flaps and the illustrations are gorgeous, with jewel-like eggs. The Easter Egg really is a good read, however, with Jan Brett’s gorgeous illustrations and a story line that teaches about “true beauty”. I hope you all have a wonderful Easter!

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Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Literature, Montessori, Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Homeschool Domination

I just saw this on Pinterest and thought I would share it. It is perhaps a bit on the melodramatic side, but it is a good reminded of how far we homeschoolers have come. When I first started homeschooling Primo, if I took him to run errands or something, people would ask why he wasn’t in school and if we replied that we homeschooled, the reactions we got were often of the shocked/raised eyebrows or “is that even legal?” nature. We usually tried to avoid the whole thing by staying home during school hours or giving some sort of vague answer. Now, people don’t even ask why Gohan is not in school if we are out during school hours and I don’t think twice of telling people that we homeschool.

Homeschool Domination
Created by: College At Home

 

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Crystal Egg Geodes

Crystal Eggs 3
We made these crystal egg geodes using egg shells, alum, glue, water, and food coloring. The directions are from Martha Stewart. I did not follow the directions very closely, as I did not want to take so long to finish the project, nor was I willing to spend the amount of money needed to buy enough alum to do six batches of these. So I doubled the growing solution recipe and then divided that evenly between six small mason jars. It worked just fine and we were very happy with the results. I would also like to mention that when we microwaved the solution to further melt the alum, it actually made more crystals form on the bottom of the container. So I recommend that you don’t microwave the solution.
Crystal Eggs 2
Crystal Eggs 4
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Labels: Arts and Crafts, Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Flower Arranging and Bunny Hoppers

Flower Arranging 3
Last week, Dora did some spontaneous practical life work – flower arranging. All week, she was obsessed with picking some of the few blooming bulbs from our front yard and I have to admit that it was really upsetting me. I get great joy from a colorful front yard and at this time of year, when everything is still gray and rainy here, it is one of the ways I battle seasonal depression. I finally let her pick a few crocuses. She really wanted to save them, but with crocuses being so small, we didn’t have a vase small enough. Then I remembered that in her pouring materials, we actually have a miniature vase. I’m not sure if it is actually supposed to be a vase, but it worked quite well. Dora was quite proud of her arrangement and spent a long time getting everything just so. I have to confess that I know very little about flower arranging and had not planned to teach the skill to her. We cannot have any flower arrangements in our house, due to allergies and cats that will destroy and/or eat anything while we are sleep. I also prefer to see my flowers outside and never cut flowers to arrange them inside.

Bunny HoppersI also set out these bunny hopper toys, which I had purchased from the the dollar section of Target. I had thought they would be good fine motor skills work and lots of fun for her, but they proved to be extremely challenging for her. At first, she really wanted to make them hop, but just could not do it. I tried showing her how to do it, but her frustration level was so high, she kept falling apart before I could show her anything. By the end of the week, she was able to race bunnies across the room with me, but it was still very challenging for her. I had to slide my bunny back a few feet each hop so that I didn’t get so far ahead, that she completely lost it. I’ll save these for next year, when she should be able to do them much more easily and as such, enjoy them much more.

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Labels: Montessori
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff